Two of Australia’s largest technology venture capital funds have backed a seed round for EARTH AI, a start-up that uses artificial intelligence to help mining firms find resources.
Airtree and Blackbird Ventures are both looking to get in at the ground floor of the mineral exploration platform in a $500,000 round, which is smaller than the size of investments the firms have been making in recent years.
The start-up, which is a graduate of Sydney University’s Incubate accelerator program, has only been in existence since last November, but has already signed up over 40 ASX-listed explorers on a mixture of trial and paid contracts. It was founded by Roman Teslyuk, a Sydney University PhD Candidate in Geosciences, and his web developer friend Ihor Herechko.
EARTH AI provides an online mineral exploration platform, which it says is powered by machine-learning software to help mining companies make new mineral discoveries. The system learns every time one of its users uploads data and therefore improves its ability to predict where future deposits may be found.
Mr Teslyuk said the platform gives geologists location suggestions for mineral exposure and autogenerates precise geological maps from satellite, geophysical and geochemical datasets. It captures all available data and now allows geologists to launch objective data analysis powered by artificial neural network, he said.
“Working as an exploration geologist I always felt at every deposit we were starting from scratch,” Mr Teslyuk said.
“Every year geologists generate millions of new data points, however they can only physically process hundreds, leaving most new data unseen.”
The fact that two of the country’s largest tech VCs are making a relatively small investment for their fund size is an indication that both see the potential for rapid growth. Airtree has a $250 million warchest for backing start-ups, whereas Blackbird last closed a fund in 2015 with $200 million to spend.
Airtree partner John Henderson said he had been keen to work with the company as it built on Australia’s global strength in mineral exploration, by addressing the outdated technology that underpins it.
Blackbird partner Niki Scevak, meanwhile, said he believed the mining industry was particularly ripe for the rapidly advancing tech smarts emerging globally, and believed EARTH AI had found a smart way of harnessing it.
“The search for minerals is a task beautifully suited to algorithms and machine learning. We’re excited to join Roman and the Earth AI team to embark on the journey ahead”, Mr Scevak said.
Read more: http://www.afr.com/technology/airtree-and-blackbird-ventures-back-artificial-intelligence-mining-exploration-platform-earth-ai-20170901-gy95yd#ixzz4rtyI92y7
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